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Sorenstam faces her stiffest challenge

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SOUTHERN PINES, N.C. (AP) -- Annika Sorenstam's fall from the top of women's golf began at the one event that gives her so much satisfaction.

Sorenstam salvaged her worst season of this decade last year at the US Women's Open. It was at Newport Country Club where a thick fog wiped out the first round, giving Sorenstam an extra day to refine her swing and take a four-shot victory in an 18-hole playoff.

That also was when she first felt slight soreness in her neck. It was a nuisance then, but nine months later, it turned out to be a bulging disk in her back and a ruptured disk in her neck, knocking her out of competition for two months.

Now, she's back to try to win another US Women's Open at Pine Needles, starting tomorrow.

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